The Low Snow Low-Down
The Low Snow Low-Down
Spring Skiing and Hiking in the Cascades
The wonders of the Northwest never cease.
- Feel like some Spring skiing? Deep snow still lingers in the mountains, and should stick around above 3000 feet awhile despite downright balmy weather in the valleys.
- Had enough snow for the winter? Many trails are melted out below 2500 feet (but expect to find snow as low as 2000 feet on protected north faces).
Chances are that trails above 4000 feet won't melt out until June again this year, but that still leaves plenty of options at lower elevations for those who don't feel like booting, snowshoeing or skiing the trail.
I don't plan to put away my skis away until May this year. I'm already hitting the trail in my hiking boots, but too much good snow remains.
Here's a recap of the last month or so's weather, and accounts of the trips I used to accumulate the data for the above summary.
March 24-26 - Snow keeps falling in the foothills. I skied the 14 miles from Trillium Lake to Rhodie. Fresh, deep snow made breaking trail slow, but conditions were perfect for snow cave construction and winter camping. Rhododendron is at about 1600 feet elevation, and I was able to ski all the way into town. Not a feat possible most years.
April 2 - Skied up Larch Mountain Road (the one above Multnomah Falls), just a half-hour's drive from Portland. There was good snow base with a fresh 2-4 inch coating of new snow starting at 2600 feet. Perfect conditions for grip and glide.
April 9 - Hiked in the Gorge up to snowline. Andrew and I set out from the Yeon State Park Trailhead up to McCord Creek Falls. Spring wildflowers were bursting out, including blue Columbia Kittentails and pink cliff-hugging Douglasia. We followed a lost trail up the ridge, past moss-covered basalt outcrops with expansive views of the Gorge. There were patches of snow starting around 2500 feet, but no significant snow on the exposed ridge until we started postholing near the juncture with the Nesmith trail at 2700 feet elevation. Snow lingered on the trail down to 2100 feet in the deep north-facing ravines heading back down.
April 14 - Tom McCall Preserve. A day hike at low elevations on the east side proved that the wildflower extravaganza was proceeding mostly according to schedule. Balsamroot, lupine and paintbrush were just getting started to bloom.
April 15 - No snow to report atop Mount Tabor for the Next Adventure Orienteering Field Trip. A beautiful, sunny very-spring-like valley day.
Next Adventure keeps you equipped for whatever you need, any time of year. Winter Wonderland has gone into hibernation until the fall, but we've still got a Backcountry Ski Corner and plenty of sticks and boards in the Bargain Basement. Our Camping Department is bursting at the seams with new gear.